When lives are at stake after natural disaster, environmental issues tend to be disregarded in the effort. Yet situation where more charcoal becomes necessary due to uncooked food-aid and the increased amount of rubbish from packaging can leave an area vulnerable to further problems in the future.
This is why the Resource Centre for Mainstreaming Environment into Humanitarian Action has launched its new website on World Humanitarian Day. This new online resource centre developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will help boost efforts to reduce the environmental impact of humanitarian relief and recovery operations around the world. The site features guidelines, training materials and case studies.
It is recognized that Disasters and conflicts often impact the environment in ways that threaten human life, health, livelihoods and security but then the humanitarian response might cause further damage and therefore actually add to the crisis itself!. The main problems are a trail of polluting waste, concentrated resource over-use and heavy, unsustainable urbanization. Over-exploited resources threaten human welfare.
Considering emergency debris and waste the site offers booklets on several issues, such as Hazardous Wastes, Large Scale Environmental Clean Up Campaigns and Solid Waste Management. Where land and forests are concerned, there is advice on Timber as a construction material in humanitarian operations and guidelines provide a holistic approach to addressing land issues from the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster through early recovery and reconstruction phases. Forests are often threatened when emergency shelter is needed, especially in area with little forest coverage such as Haiti.
Transport is also a major factor, and there are recommendations for green trends in shipping and the promotion of the use of Four-Stroke Engines for motorbikes.
The purpose of the website is to promote an increasing understanding and awareness amongst the humanitarian community on the need to integrate environment into programmes and operations. The key objective there is to identify relevant environment-specific materials that already exist and make them easily. The materials have been compiled into an online resource centre, targeted at humanitarian actors in crisis situations. Actors may use the materials to guide them in mainstreaming environment into policy development, planning, programme design, and operations. This resource is primarily targeted at programme managers, logisticians, policy and decision makers, country offices, humanitarian and resident coordinators.
Coordinating humanitarian relief with environmental issues will help improve the quality of aid and leave disaster-prone areas better equipped to deal with the future.